Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Art Inspiration from Ancestors: Belgian Lace

I've always loved lace and have several beautiful items which were made by my great aunt, who was very adept at all kinds of needlework. Is my affinity for lace -- and was hers -- influenced by our family history? From the late 1500s to 1663, our ancestors lived in a city called Kortryk (Dutch) or Courtrai (French) in the Spanish Netherlands which, in modern times, became Belgium. Belgium has long been known for its superb lace, and it turns out that Courtrai was a center of lace-making at that time, due, in significant part, to its location. The thread used in making the exceptionally delicate Brussels lace is of exquisite fineness and the steeping of flax for its creation was done in the nearby river, Lys, "which gives better results than any other water." ("A History of Handmade Lace," Emily Jackson, 1900)

Art Inspiration from Ancestors: Austria/Germany/Hungary/Poland/Russia/Ukraine Embroidery

I like to look at traditional textiles and embroidery to learn about color and pattern. All of these countries contribute to my Ashkenazi heritage. 

So far, my father's paternal ancestry has been traced back to 1737, but the quest for understanding where the family is from is complicated. The province in which my paternal gggg-grandfather was born is now in Poland, but Poland didn't exist at that time. Genealogist cousin Bill explains: "The area was repeatedly partitioned between the Kingdoms of Russia, Prussia, and France. Members of each of the three Friedlob clans could have been born in the same Provence, and have been variously under Russian and/or German occupation at the time - the borders changing with time, without the towns relocating. (I thought I just heard the plaintive strains of the theme from Fiddler on the Roof playing somewhere in the background?)"

Turns out my paternal great-grandfather, who immigrated to the US in 1880, declared Russia as his place of birth. 

My paternal grandmother's parents emigrated in 1883 from Austria. In the 1920 census, they declared that their native language was German. I remember being told that her family was from Austria/Hungary. Boundaries changed often in that area, too.

When I was searching for images to post, I was surprised that so many vintage pieces were not able to be identified specifically by country. Posters would list two or three possibilities. Sometimes arbitrarily imposed national boundaries just don't mean much when you're looking at arts/crafts -- or family histories!












More Art Inspiration from Ancestors: Hungary

Exploring another branch on the family tree, this time looking at colorful traditional embroidery from 18th and 19th century HungaryI like to look at embroidery and textiles to get a sense of traditional patterns and colors. The website of the Hungarian Folklore Museum in Passaic, NJ, has an interesting article about the history of Hungarian embroidery.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

AXIS Gallery + Art Maze Magazine

"Skyline 102" © 2016 Cynthia Friedlob
8"x10" digital print on canvas

12th National Juried Exhibition
A Flag Flying Above a Smoking Battlefield

620 S Street
Sacramento, CA

Show: August 4 - 27
Reception: Saturday, 8/12 from 6 - 9 p.m.


"Skyline 102" is included in this show. It's a small piece from my series of digital drawings devoted to cityscapes inspired by jazz. Juror Mat Gleason viewed 1397 images submitted by 390 artists and picked only 49 artworks for the exhibit. I appreciate his support of my work.

I won't be at the reception, but Mat will do a gallery walk through starting at 7 p.m. and that should be an experience you won't forget! Outspoken founder of the highly controversial Coagula Art Journal, Mat is an internationally recognized art critic and curator of contemporary art, as well as the owner of Coagula Curatorial, his gallery of contemporary art on Chung King Road in L.A.’s Chinatown. More info here.

"Notes 101E" © 2016 Cynthia Friedlob
digital prints in various sizes

Late Summer Issue 4
Publication date August 8, 2017

Art Maze is a UK-based, internationally distributed print and digital magazine that offers a juried and curated display of artwork from around the world, along with interviews and studio visit articles.

Cheyanne Sauter, Executive Director of Art Share LA, guest juror for this issue, has curated an eclectic selection of art, including "Notes 101E." I've shown twice at Art Share LA and appreciate Cheyanne's enthusiasm for my work. Click here to see the complete list of artists featured in this issue and order a digital or print copy.

Physical copies of ArtMaze Mag are available at:
– New York (McNally Jackson Books)
– Berlin (Do You Read Me?!)
– London (White Cube Gallery and MagCulture);
– throughout the UK in select stores such as Magalleria (Bath) and Magazine Brighton (Brighton).

Thank you for your interest in my art!

Cynthia Friedlob

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Art Inspiration from Ancestors: Antique Dutch Samplers

Thanks to research by my brilliant genealogist cousin Bill, the earliest ancestors in my Dutch maternal grandfather's line can be traced to a little Flemish town now in the modern country of Belgium. The family emigrated from Amsterdam to the U.S. over 350 years ago. Maybe this explains, in part, my interest in these charming antique Dutch samplers! The other part would be their lovely, colorful, geometric designs.

From Vanessa Boer's blog"Darning Samplers were prevalent in the Netherlands in the late 18th and early 19th century as sewing was a vital skill for 12 - 17 year old girls to learn. Young girls were taught how to embroider by their mothers as well as in school. Working as a linen seamstress could provide a steady living for these young women and their families. It was especially important for the girls in orphanages to master these skills so they would have an occupation to support themselves upon leaving the home. The training was so serious that these darning samplers were considered a sort of final exam in the orphanages. Because of the bright thread used to show the stitches and craftsmanship more clearly, the patterns and layers of color make beautiful combinations!"

no date - Vanessa Boer's blog

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no date - stephaniecb on Pinterest

circa 1900 - antiquesamplershop on eBay

no date - on Pinterest

no date - on Pinterest

no date - on Pinterest

1892 -

early 19th c. - Cooper Hewitt

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circa 1900 -  antiquesamplershop on eBay

1753 - stephaniecb on Pinterest